Tom Is Six.


Six years ago today, I was the most scared I’ve ever been in my entire life.

And my life completely changed.

For the way, way better.

Because today, six years ago, was the day that I became a mother to the most wonderful boy in the world!

The thing about Tom is this: Everything he does, comes from a place of kindness and love.

Even when he messes up, or makes someone sad — it’s never on purpose, and he always, always wants to make it better.

I just love that about him.

I love all the things about him.

He fills our world with happiness, and laughter.

He has a wonderful imagination, which fills me with such pride.

He loves his parents, sister, and entire family.

He loves his friends.

He loves playing outside.

He loves his Cody bear.

He loves his soft Christmas blanket.

He loves dinosaurs.

He loves the iPad.

He loves “play fights” with his Dad.

He loves to help his sister with everything.

He loves to collect neat leaves for his Mom.

He loves waking up really, really early.

He loves to go to the dinosaur museum.

He loves hugs.

He loves pizza.

He loves the beach.

He loves Godzilla.

He loves movies.

He loves to run.

He truly loves being with his family.

We are so lucky to have to this child.  And we are so thankful that we are his parents.

The past six years have been the best of my life, and I cannot wait to see how he grows and teaches us in the upcoming year.

We LOVE you so very much, Thomas James!!

Happy Birthday, sweet boy.



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Tom’s Most Hilarious 5-Year-Old Quotes.

Tom will be turning SIX years old tomorrow.

I mean, I pretty much really remember being six.  And now my little baby Thomas will be that age!

And 6-year-old Tom is sure to be a hoot, just like the 5-year-old version has been.

So like last year, I’ve decided to share with you my favorite quotes from one of my favorite kids.

Here are the funniest things my funny guy has said this past year…

1.  February 14, 2015
Tom: “I went big poo in the potty!”
Me: “Good job!”
Tom: “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom!”

2. February 23, 2015
Tom: “What are you doing?”
Me: “I’m trying to get this video to play, but it won’t.”
Tom: “Well, barn-it.”

3. March 3, 2015
*Tom hands me a piece of paper with ‘Tom’ written on it.*
Tom: “I have signed off. No more Tom! From now on, I am James.”

4. later on March 3, 2015
Me: “Did you tell people at school that you wanted to be ‘James’ now?”
Tom: “Yes, but I didn’t know how to write it, so I had to still be Tom.”

5. March 23, 2015
Tom (while eating the dinner I made): “After this can we have a snack at the Japanese restaurant? Like their chicken, rice and sauce?”

6. April 18, 2015
Tom: “I don’t want to born any babies.”
Me: “You don’t want to be a dad?”
Tom: “Do dads have to born babies?”
Me: “No. Only mommies.”
Tom: “PHEW! Ok.”

7. May 26, 2015
Alice: “Man-it!”
Me: “That sounds like a bad word, so let’s not say it.”
Tom: “You should call the president and tell him it’s a new bad word.”

8. June 6, 2015
“Mom? This sandwich is sort of horrible.” –Tom

9. July 19, 2015
Tom: “Your breath smells bad.”
Me: “I just brushed my teeth! It smells like mint!”
Tom: “Yeah. And mint smells terrible.”

10. November 3, 2015
Tom: “I’m not going to play with this toy ever again! Only on Christmas! That’s my judgment!” *cries*

11. December 9, 2015
Alice: “I made you a Santa Claus ornament at school today!”
Tom: “Well, you just wait until you get to Kindergarten, Alice. It is TOUGH.”

12. December 25, 2015
(Watching Jurassic World)
Tom: “Best movie ever!!”
Me: “I’m gonna have nightmares.”
Tom: “Yeah, awesome nightmares!”



LOVE that hilarious kid of mine!


Posted in Motherhood, Quotes, Tom | 6 Comments

A Year Of Georgia State Parks.

In January 2015, I decided that we — as a family — would visit a different Georgia State Park every month for the year.

The “rules” were:

  1. We had to all be there.
  2. We had to take a family photo.
  3. We had to go to a different one each month.

Y’all?  That is a quarter of our weekends!

It doesn’t really seem like a whole lot — until you start really planning it!

And then you realize that this goal, is a big one.

And let me tell you — it is big.  And awesome.  And priceless.

The memories made, are just magnificent.

We are discovering our world, together.  And there really is no way for me to accurately explain how bonding that is.

Okay, so!  Now that we’ve visited 12 different state parks, the most common question we get asked is: What was our favorite?

Oh my goodness, you guys, I am so bad at ranking these in terms of favorites, because I love our Georgia State Parks so very much!  And it really is all relative.

But you know who IS good at it?  Kevin.


The main things we will point out before we share our favorites with you are — there was no bad park.  None.

They were all great in different ways.

Truly.  You cannot go wrong visiting any of these parks!

Kevin’s Top 5 are all parks where we stayed the night/weekend — probably because we were able to really explore everything the park had to offer.  Our best memories are the ones where we spent the most time.

So here you are!  Kevin’s Top 5 from this year, agreed upon by us!

5. Fort Yargo State Park.

This one made the Top 5 because we had a blast (my family was there too!), and we stayed in a yurt!  We loved the yurt we stayed in and the yurt village itself.  We loved having my parents in a cabin there, and my sister and her family so close.  We geocached, canoed, fished, cooked out over a campfire, hiked, played and had the best time!  The kids both teared up when we had to leave, and this is the only state park I can say that about.

4. Amicalola Falls State Park.

We loved staying in the lodge here!  Our room had beautiful views, the room itself was super cool (sleeping loft!), and we loved that we could just eat breakfast and dinner in their restaurant downstairs.  The kids thought this was the best “hotel” we’ve ever stayed in, and they still talk about it!  Seeing the beautiful falls and visiting the pumpkin patch across the street just made the entire visit unforgettable.

3. FDR State Park.

This park was destined to make our Top 5 because it was my favorite park even before we started this journey.  I’ve been coming to this one since I was a kid, so I know it well and love it!  We stayed a night in my parents’ cabin, and it was the best!  We picnicked, built fires, hiked, and visited Callaway Gardens — we had great weather and a wonderful time!

2. Vogel State Park.

Our last park made it all the way to slot #2 on our list!  We had the best weather, the most awesome cabin, a creek running through our backyard, beautiful views of the mountains, a magnificent waterfall, and Christmas festivities to attend!  It was SO FUN.  We absolutely cannot wait to go back.  This one is a keeper.

And now — DRUMROLL…our number 1 state park was:

1. George L. Smith State Park!

This gets our vote for our favorite because it was beautiful and unique.  We absolutely loved that we got to try out different types of boats (we used a rowboat and a peddle boat) to actually boat between the trees!   It was like a hike…on a boat!  The kids thought it was really cool, too.  (Tom calls this, “the boat one!”) The neatest part of this trip was that we arrived at our cabin on a Sunday.  So that Monday?  It. Was. Deserted.  I’m not kidding, we had this entire state park to ourselves.  Lucky us.

So those are our Top 5!  And already, I want to tell you AGAIN that we loved them all!  We did!

I loved Sweetwater Creek State Park so much that I’ve been back with the kids at least four times this year!  Its visitor center is awesome!  Its hikes are beautiful!  (I want it ranked at least #6!)

Kevin said he would’ve ranked Indian Springs State Park higher, because he thought it was so awesome, except that we went in July and all he could think about was how hot he was!

We thought Red Top Mountain State Park was a blast!  Except that we got flooded. Ha!

Providence Canyon State Park was the neatest looking place ever!  I felt like not staying the night nearby was a mistake, and I want to go this year again and do just that.  Traveling there and back in a day was too exhausting for us, but the park itself was truly amazing!

Watson Mill Bridge was beautiful, and so fun for the kids, and we cannot wait to go back!  (A storm ran us off when we went.)  But even though we were only there a short time (about an hour and a half!) we were really impressed!

There was so much to do at Panola Mountain State Park, and I can’t wait to do more!  On my list: Their awesome-sounding tree-climbing experience!  (And they even do a Zzzz’s in the trees!  Sleeping in a tree?  Sounds crazy cool.)

And, oh, poor Tallulah Gorge.  Ha ha!  It never really made it out of my “last place” distinction.  I’m so sorry, Tallulah!  Listen, I KNOW this place is awesome.  It is.  I went here many times pre-kids, and just adored it.  But when we went this year, my kids were 5 and 3, and they were just not up for hiking up/down steps to the suspension bridge, and that’s what makes this place truly unique.  This will be a place we can visit with them when they’re just a bit older.  Or we can just stop here on our way to visit my aunt and uncle.  It’s still amazingly beautiful!  It’s just not a destination for us with our kids so young.  We’re coming for ya, Tallulah!  (In about 2 years.)

When I look back on all the amazing places we got to experience this year together, it takes my breath away.  It really does.

While writing this, the word “priceless” went through my head many times.  That’s just…that’s what it was.

I will have these memories with my family forever.

And that just means so very much to me.

I want to do this same goal again someday!  It was just the most amazing experience.

So…now what?! ;)

For 2016, I think we’re going to try to visit six different state parks that we didn’t get to this year — and of course, revisit our favorites.  I’m not going to put a monthly goal on it this time — just six new parks at some point — but I cannot wait!

The family goal is something I really love, and I plan to continue doing that for years to come.  It was so awesome to accomplish this together!  (You should, too!  A new restaurant every month?  A new experience every month?  Volunteer every month?)

Thank y’all so much for all of your support and interest in this project this year!  I’ve loved the questions, suggestions and ideas, and we’ve made some amazing friends (that’s you, 365 Atlanta Family) along the way.  And thanks to Georgia State Parks for being awesome (and their Instagram for loving us!) Cannot thank you enough!

2015 was the best, and I cannot wait to see what 2016 brings!

Hopefully, a lot more time with these cute people.





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Georgia State Parks: Vogel State Park.


December state park: Vogel State Park.

And also?


We visited a different Georgia State Park, as a family, every month this year!

And I will have to do a separate post about all the feelings because the state park we went to this month?

So amazing.

I am so glad this was our final state park — because we ended on an extremely high note.

We loved pretty much everything about it.

It’s located in an area that has tons to do (it’s in Blairsville — about a 2-hour drive for us).

It’s near Helen, and Dahlonega, and lots of waterfalls, and the Appalachian Trail, and Brasstown Bald.

And we didn’t do hardly any of those things this time, because we had so much to do where we were!

We arrived on Friday around 4 p.m. to check into our efficiency cottage (which is another way of saying “small”).


Now, Tom in particular, kept saying how small it was!  Ha!  I had no idea it would be something he’d even hardly notice.

But you guys?  The decor, location, and general awesomeness of it did not make it feel small to me at all!


(We were in cabin #16 — and if we go back, I’d get it again because it was perfect!)

Our cabin was located with the playground across the driveway, and the creek running through our backyard!


Approximately 2 seconds after we parked, Tom and Alice were throwing rocks in the creek!

It was amazing!

(It was unseasonably warm while we were there, but NOT warm enough to wade in that water!)


It was an easy walk to both the Visitor Center, and to the field where they were holding the Christmas festivities on Saturday.

Speaking of Saturday, we pretty much spent the whole day having fun!

After we woke up, we decided to check out a nearby waterfall called DeSoto Falls.

We only went to the Lower Falls this time, but this area was super neat, with an easy hike for the kids.



On our way to the falls, we passed a store.

And once we were hiking, I realized the store was Mountain Crossings — one I had read about! (Apparently, hiking helps me think!)

Here’s what’s super cool about this “store.”

The Appalachian Trail goes RIGHT THROUGH IT.

(There are my feet — hiking the AT. Ha!)

It’s the only part of the trail’s 2100 miles that is covered.

And the building itself was built by the CCC in the 30’s.

It’s cool!  Definitely stop if you’re up this way.

Because not only is it already neat, but if you walk behind the building, it looks like this:




And although I thought the view was spectacular and I kind of wanted to look at it all day, Alice wanted to look at this cat and his friend all day!

He was obviously used to being fawned over.

And then if that wasn’t enough excitement, Tom and Kevin found Bigfoot.


So, Mountain Crossings — the best!

AT hikers’ shoes!

After that, we played a round of putt-putt at Vogel!

Alice was all pumped up to do it and had a blast.  Tom…well, Tom wished he’d been born with magical putt-putting skills.  Ha!

He’s got good form!


It was kind of hilariously awesome.

After that, we started to get ready for the evening festivities.  I’d picked the weekend we went so we could attend — and I’m so glad we did.

Wait! We had dinner first!  It looked like this:


Okay, now…

The second Saturday of December, Vogel hosts Christmas festivities that are free to everyone.  You do not have to stay there to partake, and most of the people we met were local residents.

It was the cutest thing!  Seriously, it felt low-key — but totally perfect.

They had Christmas hayrides that went continuously starting at 4 — taking people from the parking lot to the field.  We rode it a few times, because they loved it so much.  At night, the rides were decorated with Christmas lights!


They handed out candles to everyone as it got dark, and everyone sang Christmas carols.  It felt like…a movie.  It was awesome.

They had a Christmas tree lighting.


And they gave out hot chocolate, cider, Christmas cookies, and had face painting!  It was so, so fun.


I really liked it because it was not a big over-the-top thing at all.  It was just…fun.


And on Sunday, we hiked the trail around the lake, so that we could see the awesome view of the mountains behind the lake, and the waterfall!

(I actually had hiked this by myself on Saturday morning to get the first picture you see in this blog.  So beautiful!)

This hike is really pretty, and the kids had a great time!  You MUST DO IT if you visit this park — because it’s what makes the park so special.





After this, we packed up and headed back home!

I loved, LOVED this park.  We all did.  It was wonderful weather, and lots of fun outdoor activities, and awesomely beautiful.

We want to go back.

And I also want to say, that usually we don’t go out of town during December weekends because of all the Christmas activities going on — but I loved it.

I think we’ll do it again.

It was actually really great to be outdoors for an entire weekend in the middle of all the “go-go-go” that is the holiday season.  It was really, really nice.

So there you have it!  We did it!  Twelve parks in 2015!

It was the best family goal ever.  I will be forever thankful.



Read about our other Georgia State Park adventures this year!

January park: Sweetwater Creek State Park.
February park: FDR State Park.
March park: Providence Canyon State Park
April park: George L. Smith State Park
May park: Tallulah Gorge State Park
June park: Watson Mill Bridge State Park
July park: Indian Springs State Park
August park: Panola Mountain State Park
September park: Amicalola Falls State Park
October park: Red Top Mountain State Park
November park: Fort Yargo State Park

Follow our adventures on Instagram! #12parksin2015

Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Georgia Outdoors, Georgia State Parks, Kevin, Motherhood, Tom, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Georgia State Parks: Fort Yargo State Park.


November park: Fort Yargo State Park.

And…we stayed in a YURT!


This was our first time staying in a yurt, and I really loved it.

I thought the yurt itself was really cool.

And the weekend we were there, it rained HARD both nights — and we know how our tent does in downpours, right?

So…the yurt was great!


What I loved most about it though, was the view off the back deck.

This yurt was directly on the water.

(All of them at Fort Yargo are — except #5 — but I really thought ours had the best location.  We were in #6.)

In the photo above, the boys are fishing off the deck!  How cool is that?!

And the view?  It looked like this:



It was really great!

We were really lucky that even though the forecast called for non-stop rain, it really rained hard overnight, and during the day we only had to deal with sprinkles.

Again, I am so thankful for this adventure, because I am sure that if I wasn’t already planning on being outside this weekend, I probably wouldn’t have — and I would’ve missed out!

This weekend was made 100% better by the fact that my parents were staying in a cabin (just a short walk up a hill) and my sister’s older kids stayed with them.  And my sister and her baby came every morning and stayed until after supper (their house is only 20 minutes away).

Having family along on this adventure was THE. BEST.

Our kids truly had the time of their lives.

The kids and I had been to Fort Yargo a couple times over the summer with my sister — we swam in the lake and went to the beach there.  (Highly recommend!)

But because Kevin wasn’t with us — Fort Yargo was still on the table for our monthly park visit!  And I’m so glad it was.

Because although we had experienced the summer activities — it was a whole new experience being there in the fall.

We canoed, kayaked, geocached, grilled out hot dogs, went on hikes, fished, and generally just loved every minute of being together.

This was the state park that when the weekend was over, both kids teared up.  They did not want to leave!




I loved being at this park in the fall, and seeing all the beautiful fall colors.

And I loved how completely peaceful it was while we were there.

It mostly felt like we had the place to ourselves.

My sister actually called me tonight and told me how much she loved this November weekend — and I totally agree.

We made memories here that we’ll have forever.

And that makes me extremely happy.










I cannot believe this, but we only have ONE MORE TO GO.

One more park, and we will have accomplished this crazy idea to visit a different Georgia State Park every month of this year as a family!!

I am so excited.

I cannot wait to really and truly GUSH about what an amazing experience this had been.

A lot of gushing love coming your way in a couple weeks — so y’all be waiting! ;)

Read about our other Georgia State Park adventures so far this year!

January park: Sweetwater Creek State Park.
February park: FDR State Park.
March park: Providence Canyon State Park
April park: George L. Smith State Park
May park: Tallulah Gorge State Park
June park: Watson Mill Bridge State Park
July park: Indian Springs State Park
August park: Panola Mountain State Park
September park: Amicalola Falls State Park
October park: Red Top Mountain State Park

Follow our adventures on Instagram! #12parksin2015

Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Georgia Outdoors, Georgia State Parks, Kevin, Tom, Travel | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Disney World.


We went to Disney World!

We went in September during Tom’s fall break — and we were thrilled to have BOTH sets of grandparents with us, too!

The kids had a truly wonderful time!

(And I learned a lot about what I want to do differently next time. Ha!)

I’m so thankful for the memories made.  I love that the kids wanted to go back almost immediately.  I will always be thrilled that the kids got to experience this place with us and their grandparents — it was truly awesome.

IMG_0767  IMG_0766
Mickey left gifts in their rooms at night — it was a big hit!  (The Donald and Rapunzel were new for them this year.  How does Mickey always know exactly what they want?!)

We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort this time.  There were lots of things we liked about this hotel — one thing that was neat was that a small bed folded down out of the wall — Tom slept in it every night! (When it comes to Disney resorts, I’m not loyal. Ha! I’ll probably switch every time.)

The first night we arrived, we made Tom’s dreams come true with dinner at this place.  We’ve watched YouTube videos of this restaurant for 2 years — and we were finally, really there!  He was STOKED.  He told me that this, “was the best day of his entire life!”  And it was the most awesome place.  Adored it.

Alice and Grandma!

The next morning, we all headed to the Magic Kingdom!

IMG_0815  IMG_0819

The teacups were her favorite!  Of course!  We rode this one twice, she loved it so much!

IMG_0832  IMG_0830
The carousel with Mimi!

We didn’t know this beforehand, but the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was closed down while we were there!  This devastated Tom — like, he cried when we got there and saw it. (Lesson 1 learned: ALWAYS CHECK the status of your favorite rides beforehand so you’re prepared!)  But then he perked right up when he realized the gift shop was still open!  Ha!  He seriously played in here for like…30 minutes?  It was hilarious.  He told me his favorite ride was Peter Pan, but his favorite thing was probably this gift shop!

We sat down to eat ice cream in the afternoon, and a show was going on at the castle!  With princesses and an evil witch. Alice LOVED THIS.  She said that this show (that she watched from afar) was her favorite thing!  She was amazed!

(Lesson 2 learned: Do NOT focus on the rides so much next time, Kate!  The kids loved the shows and parades going on around us more.)

Like this dancing parade?  LOVED!  They danced and danced!

Tom ended the night on the beach at our resort.  Sooooo nice!  My favorite thing about our resort was that because it is so spread out — it felt totally NOT crowded.  Every night, we had our beach to ourselves mostly.  It was crazy awesome.

Day 2: Epcot!

On this day we headed to Epcot for breakfast with the princesses!  Then we rode a couple things and headed back to our resort for lunch.  We ended the day back at the Magic Kingdom.


IMG_0948  IMG_0960
Alice met ALL the princesses and could not have been more thrilled!  Best day ever for her!  And she participated in the princess parade — she’s even waving to her kingdom!  LOVE her!

Tom and I are famous!  Famous scuba divers!  Ha!

And then we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for a couple hours in the evening.  And y’all?  This was the best.

Our first day at MK had been stressful for me — their app (which you basically have to use) was down much of the day. (Lesson 3: have hard copies with your reservation info!).

So on this day, I’d decided not to stick with all these crazy FastPass reservations so much.  It’s just…stressful to me.  So when we got to MK that evening, I asked the kids if they wanted to meet Mickey (which we had a FP for) and they said, “No!”  Ha ha!  So we didn’t.  We ate dinner instead.  Everything was much better for us this way for us!  Just…whatever, man!

So out of our three FPs we had for that evening — Alice and I used one.  Tom and Kevin used zero.  :)

Here’s our one:

We met Tink!  Alice loved meeting characters this time!

Our first time seeing this!  Kids were IN AWE.  So, so amazed!

IMG_1027  IMG_1028
Tom was seriously screaming the whole time.  Calling out everything he saw.  BEST.

And the last day, we headed to the Animal Kingdom!


IMG_1148    IMG_1129


There’s a hippo in there!



And that’s it!  It was a crazy, fast, fun, memory-filled time!  The kids absolutely cannot wait to go back!  Tom asked if we could go tomorrow. Ha!

See ya real soon, Disney!

(But not tomorrow.) ;)


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Georgia State Parks: Red Top Mountain State Park.


October park: Red Top Mountain State Park.


Out of all of our state park visits this year — this is the one where we TENT CAMPED!

I was so excited to see how the kids would do — and you know what?

They did GREAT.  Really, really great!

Especially considering that we are the proud owners of a tent that does not keep rain water out.

Ha! More on that later!

We were lucky to have friends agree to camp along with us, and it was awesome!

I’m so happy they came!  They have two boys around our kids’ ages, and the kids played together the entire time.  It was so great!

Our friends had also scoped out the sites before we got there, so our camping spot was great — right next to the playground!

We couldn’t have asked for a better site and a better family to be with us.

Red Top is about 40 minutes north of us, and I picked it for our first tent camping trip because I knew it was close to civilization, and our house, just in case something happened.

You know…something like TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS.

And you know what?  I’m so smart.

(And humble.)

Because this is what the inside of our tent looked like Saturday morning:


And you guys?  We flipped this over halfway through the night.  So that is only the rain that collected on our bed for the second half.


Here’s what Kevin and I looked like Saturday morning:


Ha ha!  Kidding!  We looked like this:


Kids were rock stars!  Alice SLEPT THROUGH THE ENTIRE THING.

Like…she woke up in soaking wet clothes Saturday morning, and had no idea why.

That little nut!

So Saturday morning, we packed up all of our (soaking wet) stuff in garbage bags and headed back to our house for some hot baths, naps and washer/dryer action.

(Our friends and their tent were fine, by the way!  Our poor tent…)

We woke up Sunday well rested and ready to head back to Red Top!

We spent the day with our friends, checking out the park, fishing and eating a picnic lunch.  Sunday was a great, beautiful day and I’m so happy we were able to really enjoy the park.

The thing that surprised me most about this park?

How beautiful it is!  It has the neatest trestle-looking bridge that you drive over to get there — it’s just amazing!

And I would really love to check out more of their trails — the views of the lake are just beautiful.

I cannot believe I’d never been there, even though it’s not far from us!

I cannot wait to go back.

(And maybe surprisingly, I cannot wait to tent camp again!)

((Maybe with a little less flooding.)) ;)















Read about our other Georgia State Park adventures so far this year!

January park: Sweetwater Creek State Park.
February park: FDR State Park.
March park: Providence Canyon State Park
April park: George L. Smith State Park
May park: Tallulah Gorge State Park
June park: Watson Mill Bridge State Park
July park: Indian Springs State Park
August park: Panola Mountain State Park
September park: Amicalola Falls State Park

Follow our adventures on Instagram! #12parksin2015

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments